BROOKSVILLE — A freestanding infirmary for the Hernando County Detention Center is a step closer to reality.
The building, which is expected to solve several space issues at the county jail, will be designed and built under a $1.5 million contract the Hernando County Commission awarded on Tuesday to Allstate Construction Inc. of Tampa.
The cost will be paid out of the $3 million the commission set aside for repairs when the sheriff took over operation of the jail more than a year ago.
The new infirmary will provide expanded space for inmates who need medical attention. The current medical unit, inside the existing jail, provides only nine cells for inmates.
Earlier this week, there were 15 people housed there, requiring the placement of extra cots in the cells, jail administrator Maj. Michael Page told commissioners.
"It's not conducive to good hygiene,'' Page said.
More of the inmates in the general population who have medical issues that should be watched carefully will be able to be housed in the new unit.
Page said the existing unit was not designed well.
"It's just not serving our purpose,'' he said.
Officials plan to use the existing infirmary space for more appropriate housing for juvenile inmates.
Commissioner Dave Russell asked if the new infirmary might help the county get some federal prisoners back into available beds at the jail.
Page said he couldn't guarantee anything, but he was sure that without the new infirmary there would be no chance of attracting back the federal inmates, who provide an extra revenue stream to the county.
"At least we'll attract some conversation with the feds once it is done,'' Page said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.
In other business
The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday:
• Voted unanimously to ask the staff to draw yet another set of boundaries for commission districts to keep commission candidate Jason Sager in District 3. The map the commission was considering would have moved Sager into District 5. Sager protested.
• Agreed to a change order for Hernando Beach Channel dredge contractor BCPeabody. In addition to setting the final contract amount for the project at the original $8.7 million the company bid, the change would set Dec. 31 as the date for substantial completion and Jan. 31 as the date for total completion. Penalties of $5,000 a day would be levied against the company if the substantial completion deadline is not met.
• Approved a special benefit unit that will allow the paving of a series of roads in Royal Highlands, even though each individual road did not have the support of enough lot owners to meet the normal 60 percent requirement. Since more than 80 percent of the owners of improved properties approved and it made more sense for a series of connected roads to be paved at once, according to county staff, the county went ahead with the project. Portions of Marvelwood Avenue, Lapwing Road, Mirage Avenue, Pioneer Avenue, Picardy Court and Linnet Road will be paved, and owners of all 94 lots will ultimately pay two-thirds of the $484,000 cost.